Space; anime’s true frontier. These are the episodes where true creative genius can thrive. To boldly let plot and character go where no man or woman has gone before.
I’ll admit. I’m a space nerd. Growing up, my parents were happy to feed into my curiosity. Books, shows, visits to museums and the Smithsonian all expanded my mind. And a little family involvement didn’t hurt either. My grandfather was an employee of NASA during the golden age of early exploration and lunar landings. His proudest achievement was being a member of the lunar lander development team for the Apollo program. His involved in the development and testing of the explosive bolts that held the lunar module to it’s base. When the module was ready to escape the moon, this bolts would explode, separating the two and allowing the crew to join back up with the orbiter and head home. Needles to say their team accomplished their task, as no astronaut was left on the moon.
But to the present. I love the futuristic techno feel of a plot based in space. And for good reason. Space offers something that earth bound shows typically cannot; a nearly limitless environment from which to develop in. Since so little is known about the universe outside our minuscule piece of it, there is nothing to back what an author can imagine. The universe is an oyster, ready for whatever pearl an author can make of it.
And anime has done just that. It has created a fantastic assortment. Assortment of shows, built around a diverse set of environments. In Cowboy Bebop, mankind has expanded across the galaxy, the mix of high and low tech makes for a wide diversity of worlds and people from which to build on, even without an ‘aliens’. Captain Tylor shows us how space can have its humorous aspects as well. That in mankind’s quest to conquer the galaxy, that sometimes a low stress approach is better. And it might even help you become a young alien princess’s pet. And space travel should be full of adventure and fortune. Fighting pirates and seeking fortune with Gene Starwind in Outlaw Star kept my interest in each episode. I love how the mix if aliens, humans, science, and magic all mix together to create a fantastic series.
And space has influenced other bloggers as well. Here are a few series that have made their favorites list.
My favorite anime series that’s based in space… also happens to be my most favorite anime of all time. Super Dimension Fortress Macross is all the love I remember — a show I discovered way back when I was around 8 years old. It was all sorts of ridiculousness: how would F14 Tomcat fighter planes “fly” in space? What? They transform into robots? Never mind I’m gonna love this forever!
Never looked back, really. Of course, that was just my way in. What made me stay was this riveting love story between three extraordinary but very flawed people. They were talented and driven and acted at the center of significant events in human history, but otherwise they were very ordinary humans with all sorts of failures of behavior and character. It took me some time to appreciate that this was the meat of the show, set against the backdrop of these great space battles.
Why should anyone watch this? It is fun, a very fun show. It gives you a veneer of seriousness, and it does become dark when it needs to should you view it in certain contexts. Otherwise it’s a light viewing with lots of flashy action and romantic-comic-soapy hijinks. And finally, it is musical. It has an incredible pop-idol soundtrack as well as early ’80s BGM that works really well in an overall audiovisual experience.
Kadian1364 – The Nihon Review
Space is so vast and deep; you can get lost in its grand expanse, its cosmic landscapes, its limitless possibilities. Yet what really captures my affinity are the quiet, human stories within this ethereal realm, which I can think no anime better at portraying than Crest of the Stars.
Sure, it has futuristic science fiction concepts, planet-hopping adventure, and a thought-provoking stew of ideological and cultural constructs set on the backdrop of galactic war. But the main draw of the Crest and Banner of the Star series are the genuine, layered individuals at the core. Set apart from their societies, main characters Jinto and Lafiel see in one another kindred souls. Their blossoming relationship is sweet and understated, aided by dialogue that’s subtle and playful at times, but at others direct and powerful. Even supporting players like Captain Lexshue, Baron Febdashe, and Admiral Spoor each express themselves in wonderfully characteristic ways; one comes to understand the essence of their personalities and spirit in short time. If characters are the heart and soul of a narrative, then I love the insightful, complex, and ultimately beautiful heart and soul of Crest of the Stars.
Shinmaru – Unmei Kaihen
Planetes is my favorite anime set in space because of how it simultaneously romanticizes outer space and makes it mundane due to its choice of main characters. The crew of the Toy Box are folks who do important work but find themselves demeaned by others because their work is so blue-collar. Indeed, such an amazing experience as space travel has been made ordinary and irritating because the work is thankless and difficult. However, that does not stop these characters from dreaming and reaching out for what drove them to space in the first place. That the show breaks down the romance of space and proceeds to build it up again is amazing to me.
I’d absolutely recommend Planetes for anyone. The show has great characters who are appealing and sympathetic but also allowed to be flawed in an interesting way. That humanity is the most interesting part of the series. Planetes also has an excellent sense of humor: Some of the wackiness is occasionally weird (those space ninja!), but oftentimes it works, and there’s plenty of great workplace humor and satire. And, of course, there’s lots of good, old-fashioned hard science-fiction goodness for folks who need that itch scratched.